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Collaboration needed in NZ’s healthcare system to be fair


Opinion – More and more New Zealanders are becoming, avoidably, at-risk due to under-pressure District Health Boards, longer waiting lists, and an ever-growing population.

But just as this Government wants to radically change the education system, so, too, must it consider greater collaboration within the healthcare system in its major review of the way health services are provided.

Doctors, nurses and technicians are held back by traditional pay scales, subjected to increased workloads, greater levels of fatigue and stress, higher staff turnover and amplified patient acuity, and an unhealthy rostering system.

This can mean, unintentionally, people fall through the system’s cracks.

Add to this the growing incidences of people going without required screening tests, and DHBs’ efforts to ensuring Kiwis are getting the healthcare they deserve are compounded.

Something’s gotta give.

Health Minister Dr David Clark publicly ruled out the use of public-private partnerships (PPPs) in the health system. This was in response to calls by private surgical hospitals that government partner with them formally to parcel out surgical cases on a planned rather than ad hoc basis, as happens now.

So, if the PPPs proposal is off the table, there are really only two remaining options.

One is that DHBs continue to struggle with existing resources, patients continue to suffer long waiting times and medical staff, including hard-working nurses, continue to put up with very tough working conditions.

Or two, DHBs work with organisations like SEQURE Health who can insource specialist medical staff, including colonoscopists, general surgeons and gastroenterologists, to relieve the pressures on DHBs, patients and hospital staff.

This model of care is used overseas in the UK and Brazil and has been proven effective.

The formula is simple.

SEQURE can actively source and provide to DHBs under contract trained, specialised and experienced clinical and surgical staff who can work onsite at hospitals using the hospital’s own facilities to boost hospital capacity.

Insourcing can help hospitals shape timeframes, resources, and rosters to deliver the services outside of core hours.

Consequently, this leaves DHBs with more money to support staff in meeting other targets, while simultaneously, generating more time to invest in staff welfare.

This is a valuable service that Southland DHB and its patients benefited from; bringing in eye specialists from around New Zealand to Dunedin to tackle a backlog of 1,500 patients with ‘significantly overdue’ appointments between March to mid-June.

Outsourcing means paying for the facilities as well as the medical expertise – whereas Insourcing staff to absorb increased demand could help DHBs fully utilise unused existing capacity, expand day-time specialist outpatient clinics, and operate overnight throughout weekends in order to clear backlogs.

It’s time that the public sector seeks a different form of partnership with their private counterparts.

ends

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